So very often, we are drowned out in the loud competing, clashing, noises of everyday life. We have many wants, many needs that seemingly require our attention. Yet, as our Lord Jesus Christ told Martha, who was busy with many tasks at hand, "Only one thing is required . . ." Why is it that we avoid this one thing that can save us, and we turn to the vast turbulent sea of competing desires?
Unfortunately, in today's society, one can see an alarming rise of diabolical narcissism, not just among our leaders in society, but in individuals as well. Doubt me? Look around on the streets - the vast majority having their heads buried in their tablets and smartphones, earbuds protruding from ears on the majority of heads, people staring determinedly ahead and ignoring the people around them - perhaps getting angry at being jostled, having to rush to work, rush to the store, rush home to catch the latest TV show after yoga class, etcetera, etcetera. Very rarely do we take time to be in the present, to truly see, to truly listen, to truly perceive others for who they are and to perceive the world around us as it truly is. It is almost as if we are succumbing to a virulent form of societal autism, where the vast majority are so self-absorbed in their own realities, that they cannot ever discern the presence of God in their lives or see the wonder of His creation around us.
God is always calling each of us to holiness. It does not matter if we are called to the priesthood or to a married life, we are all called to a life of holiness and sanctity. This does not mean we are to act all pompous, high and mighty as the Pharisees did in the Gospels. But it does not mean we passively lie down in laziness and expect God to do all the work for us and lay out our paths in life. Listening to God's call in life requires steadfast effort. It requires work and an active response on our part. And in today's society that seeks to totally eliminate suffering and work at the expense of others, we as a society find ourselves actively and passively pushing God out of our lives, because, lets face it, keeping a relationship with God requires work, effort, blood, and sweat.
In listening to God's call to holiness, it is not enough to fast and to pray. "Only one thing is required . . . " That thing is an open heart, a willingness to develop a true relationship with God. Most of us ignore this fact. Most church-going Catholics only go because it is a routine, a habit ingrained in us from birth by Grandma/Baba - they go so as to maintain their "eternal death insurance policy" so they don't go to Hell. Most parents demand their children be Baptized/Chrismated and receive Holy Communion, only to play dress up and have a party and not even bother with proper Christian initiation, or put in the effort to continue to go to Church. And so on, and so on - the examples are endless, but the point remains the same. Most don't want to put in the work to develop and deepen their relationship with God or to strengthen and deepen their spiritual life in the Church. It is just too much work, too demanding.
On the other hand, if you are willing to do the work and reap the rewards of hearing God's call to holiness, WONDERFUL! Start with a little bit at a time. Pray, fast, attend Divine Liturgy regularly, receive the Mysteries of Confession and the Eucharist regularly, do what your pastor tells you to do, and strive to live a virtuous life - you will be more than adequately prepared and have a much deeper and richer spiritual life than most of your peers. But really take time to understand the prayers of the Divine Liturgy, really take time to understand what Scripture says. Meditate on a part of the Liturgy or the Holy Bible. Digest it, ponder it, listen to what it says. Then try to make it an integral part of your life and see how it changes you and your relationship to God.
Here is a short challenge: one of the very first petitions of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the priest intones "In peace, let us pray to the Lord." Set yourself 10 minutes of quiet time where you will not be bothered. Slowly say that to yourself, carefully enunciating each word. Then REALLY think and meditate on what that one sentence means. Believe me, that one sentence says A LOT about how we are to comport ourselves at Divine Liturgy and why we are there on Sunday!!! I strongly suggest you try this challenge - if you can put in the work to really understand, love, and live your faith, you are then well on the way to a deep and fulfilling spiritual life in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, a life in which you can actively listen to God's call to holiness.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!